Statement on First Wind projects from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection

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Statement on First Wind projects from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection

April 9, 2014
Environmental Protection

Contact: Jessamine Logan, Communications Director, Jessamine.Logan@maine.gov or (207) 287-5842

Statement on First Wind Projects from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection

-Following the Law Court’s decision on First Wind and Emera, Maine Department of Environmental Protection reviews Oakfield Wind, Hancock Wind, Bingham Wind and Bowers Wind projects’ financial capacity-

AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has reviewed the Maine Supreme Judicial Court’s March 4, 2014 decision that vacated the Maine Public Utilities Commission’s approval of the joint venture between First Wind and Emera.

This decision affects four wind-energy developments by First Wind in Maine: the Oakfield Wind project in Aroostook County; the Hancock Wind project in Hancock County; the Bingham Wind project in Somerset County; and the Bowers Wind project in Penobscot and Washington Counties.

Each of these First Wind projects is in a different phase of the permitting or construction process with DEP, but each had a portion of their financing funded by Emera.

Construction on the Oakfield Wind project is underway. The Hancock Wind project has been approved by DEP, but construction has not yet commenced. The Bingham Wind project application materials are now under review by DEP, and the Bowers Wind project has been denied by DEP, but that decision is under appeal to the Board of Environmental Protection.

On March 12 and 13, 2014, DEP issued letters to First Wind for three of the affected projects (Oakfield, Hancock and Bingham), stating the department’s concern that the project financing has been affected by the Supreme Court’s decision. DEP has requested that revised materials be submitted to describe how DEP’s financial capacity requirements will be met within 60 days.

Submission of revised financial capacity documents for the Bowers Wind project need to wait until after the conclusion of the appeal process.

A condition of DEP’s January 17, 2012, approval of the Oakfield Wind project required First Wind to submit final financing materials to the DEP prior to the start of construction activities. First Wind provided those materials to DEP on September 6, 2013, and a condition compliance order was granted to First Wind on October 7, 2013, approving their proposed financing package.

A portion of that financing package included contributions from Emera. In its March 13, 2014 letter, DEP requested that First Wind provide alternative financing documents describing how project construction will be financed without potential contributions from Emera.

Although not required for the final financing package, in the fall of 2013 First Wind also posted a restoration letter of credit to DEP to fully restore the site as additional security in the event that construction is not completed.

Similar to the condition of the Oakfield Wind project, the department’s approval of Hancock Wind in 2013 requires that First Wind submit final financing materials to DEP prior to the start of construction activities.

DEP has not received written responses to these letters, but is working aggressively with First Wind to ensure all license standards are met.

Background on Financial Capacity for Wind Energy Projects:

Applicants for a wind-energy project must demonstrate financial capacity for construction, maintenance and decommissioning costs. This can be in the form of a performance bond, surety bond, letter of credit or other financial assurance acceptable to the department.

As allowed under its regulations, DEP can insert a condition in approvals for wind-energy projects that the applicant submits to the department a final financial package prior to the commencement of any construction activities to ensure that the applicant has the appropriate resources to construct, maintain and decommission the proposed project.

http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/index.php?topic=Portal+News&...

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Poster's comment:

First Wind would like Mainers to believe that if they don't roll over and sign up for their projects, Maine will be left behind. Meanwhile, it seems that First Wind is actually a surprisingly small outfit which is very Maine-centric as seen by the projects they list on their website.

If you look at their list of projects, you can see that Maine, at six projects (which includes Oakfield, a project where FW is involved with a pending lawsuit) has more FW projects than any other state.

If you then compare their project penetration by state to population by state, you can see that their penetration per capita is highest in Maine by far, 8.7 times the average in their six state operating universe.
So, yes - they like to create an image of Maine going to be left behind if citizens question these projects of this wonderful large company. But in fact, they are heavily skewed to Maine and frankly, incredibly dependent on Maine. Yet everyone from legislators to towns providing TIF's treat them as if it's the other way around.
Their Maine-centricity is consistent with the fact that Kurt Adams and Angus King III hold powerful positions with them.
Could it be that they only have 50 employees as seen below?

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Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT

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(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

https://pinetreewatch.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/

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